ASK FATHER: Departing priest crooned a show tune at Mass

Just for contrast!

From a reader…


One of our priests is moving on, and yesterday he gave his farewell at Mass.

Instead of a homily, he talked up St. Francis’ contributions to social justice, and about how our faith is represented in the many programs our church has.

He segues into a story of a ‘composer’ he knows of, who was struggling to write some lyrics for a song. He asked his daughter, “what would you say to a friend you will never see again?”

And then from the choir area, a sentimental piano chord sounds…

And the priest proceeds to sing, from the lectern, a love theme from the Broadway musical Wicked.

“”I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn And we are led To those who help us most to grow If we let them And we help them in return Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true But I know I’m who I am today Because I knew you…

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes the sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good”

“And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I’ve done you blame me for But then, I guess we know There’s blame to share And none of it seems to matter anymore”

It was just awful. Is there anything we can do?

Say a prayer of thanksgiving that he’s gone.

Offer up mortifications of your flesh for the parish upon which he has been inflicted.

Pray for all priests, even the ridiculous and silly ones.

And, please, accept my apology for all the goofy things priests have done, are doing, and will do in the future.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It was a homily, even if it wasn’t a good one. Priests have a lot of leeway for the homily format. It may have been imprudent and dorky, and it may have improperly included a worldly song’s worldly attitude about acquaintances and forgiveness; but at least it wasn’t heresy. Which is what some people do get, of course. This is more like having an embarrassing uncle.

  2. acricketchirps says:

    Could be worse (DG); when I saw the title of the post the first tune that came to mind was
    (I did it) My Way.

  3. Fr. Z – where did you find the wonderful holy card? Is it possible to obtain a scanned image of it? I have been looking for something like this for years. I would like to use to make cards to send when a Mass if offer for the repose of a soul. Thanks. God Bless – Fr. Bill

  4. southernpriest says: wonderful holy card

    Sorry, I don’t know. I had the image in a file into which I stick things that catch my eye.

  5. jarthurcrank says:

    Consider me suspicious, maybe if he were more honest he would choose to sing a different Stephen Schwartz song as he is leaving a former parish which he will never see again…”Extraordinary” from Pippin.

    Patching the roof and pitching the hay
    Is not my idea of a perfect day
    When you’re extraordinary
    You gotta do extraordinary things

    I’m not the type who loses sleep
    Over the size of the compost heap
    When you’re extraordinary
    You think about extraordinary things

    That’s the reason I’ll never be
    The kind of man who dwells
    On how moths got into the tapestry
    Or why the dungeon smells

    Oh, it’s hard to feel special, it’s hard to feel big
    Feeding the turtle and walking the pig
    It’s so secondary
    To someone who is very
    Extraordinary like me

    If the moat won’t stop leaking
    And the goat won’t stop shrieking
    And the griffin keeps losing its hair
    If the west wing is rotting
    And our best wine is clotting
    Well, I’m terribly sorry but I don’t care

    I’ve got to be someone who lives
    All of his life in superlatives
    When you’re extraordinary
    You gotta do extraordinary things

    Every so often a man has a day
    He truly can call his
    Well, here I am to seize my day
    If someone would just tell me when the hell it is

    Oh give me my chance, and give me my wings
    And don’t make me think about everyday things
    They’re unnecessary
    To someone who is very
    Like me!

  6. Hmmmm, poetry/song, and a need to make fun of something stupid and in the false “Spirit of Vatican II.” Where is Long-skirts when you need him at a time like this? This is the perfect post for that commentator!

  7. Mike says:

    I served a NO funeral Mass this summer, and one of the “eulogies” repeated Kurt Vonnegut’s “So it goes” about the death of her relative. A song might have been less painful!

    Another reason to ban eulogies!

  8. Giuseppe says:

    “For Good” is a pretty good song in the context of a Broadway musical (except for the line ‘hand-print on my heart’). I’ve seen it used in non-Catholic memorial services. It has no place in Mass.

    I recently saw The Book of Mormon, and I love the song “I Believe”, a satire of blind faith in irrational concepts (Jesus’s planet, Jews on boats to America, Eden in Missouri?). It is also an homage to Rogers and Hammerstein (the tinkling piano octaves are out of the introduction to the song The Sound of Music). (Actually, the show is a love letter, on acid, to the American musical.)

  9. Ambrose_Phoenix says:

    I absolutely love Broadway musicals, including Wicked (I can quote every song word for word), but this….just no. If I become a priest (entering seminary on Thursday – please pray for me!) I may quote a song or something during a homily, assuming I can connect it to the Gospel or other readings, but to sing the whole thing? About the fact that I’m leaving a parish, making the focus on me? Never.

    Oh, and for clarification, the song “For Good” is a love theme, but friendship-love rather than romantic-love. It’s one of my favorites from the play. But still….proper time and place. Neither of which is a homily during Mass.

  10. everett says:

    Agreed that the song is excellent, my favorite from the show. It’d be very appropriate at say a going away dinner/celebration, not appropriate at mass.

  11. Giuseppe says:

    @Ambrose_Phoenix – Agreed re. Wicked. It is really a good show, but it is a show. And “For Good” is one of the best depictions of friendship-love out there. (The Don Carlo duet between Rodrigo and Carlo is the male version of this) (Franco Corelli, and NY Yankee favorite Robert Merril) (with score)

    May God bless you in your calling to the priesthood.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Horrible. Most inappropriate. What was this priest thinking? His entire priestly life was to draw people to Christ and not to himself. Well….?

  13. Giuseppe says:

    He sang a duet as a solo. That itself is problematic. (Kristin and Adele Dazeem, live performance)

    Try “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” as a solo. Impossible. (Ella and Pops)

  14. Oh, man – Wicked?

    That’s so 2010.

    Why not a bit of Wayne Newton, which I am certain any really God-fearing person would want to hear at the end of Mass?

  15. Speaking of which, has anyone else here noticed the striking musical similarity between ‘The Lord is My Shepherd (and I Want to Follow)’ and Kermit the Frog’s ‘Rainbow Connection’?

    Try singing ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ in Kermit’s voice. You will immediately see what I mean.

  16. MikeM says:

    Clearly not appropriate for mass, but I would be inclined to cut the priest some slack if this is the worst that he’s done. Sometimes musical nerds just can’t help themselves! (Said as someone with a mild case of musical nerdery, myself).

    Philippa Martyr, I have noticed the Rainbow Connection similarity, and it’s actually really distracting when they play that song!

  17. Kerry says:

    Philippa, did you know the words and music to Amazing Grace and the theme from Gilligan’s Island are interchangable? “This is the tale of castaways”, and, allegretto please, “AmazingGraceHowSweettheSound,thatSavedAWretchLikeMe”. Heh.

  18. LarryW2LJ says:

    “And, please, accept my apology for all the goofy things priests have done, are doing, and will do in the future.”

    No need for you to apologize, Father. Priests are human too, and broken, just like the rest of us. There are good ones and bad ones – stuff happens.

    Just keep on doing what you’re doing – help us keep our eyes focused in the right direction, and we’ll be fine.

  19. pmullane says:

    Hmmm, it seems Father may have been influenced by that awful video of some priest or other singing a Leonard Cohen song during a poor unfortunates wedding.

    Im sure that all the adult heterosexual males in the congregation (if there were any there) found this to be most edifying.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Ambrose_Phoenix says:

    I absolutely love Broadway musicals . . .

    For me the most remarkable thing about musicals is that “How Are Things in Gloccamorra?” was composed by two Jews.

  21. acricketchirps says:

    Kerry. Long bin known that House of the Rising Sun and Amazing Grace are a better fit.
    Here, the Blind Boys of Alabama:

  22. janeway529 says:

    Speaking of Broadway musicals, I remember one priests’ homily began with him talking about the musical Godspell and he sang, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” Another time, another priest asked the small congregation to stand up and do gestures to a song. Both instances tied in well with their homilies and kept the congregations awake and alert.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Bjaneway529 says:

    Another time, another priest asked the small congregation to stand up and do gestures to a song.

    If I had been there, I probably would have made a gesture–but maybe not the one he had in mind.

  24. Philippa, did you know the words and music to Amazing Grace and the theme from Gilligan’s Island are interchangable? “This is the tale of castaways”, and, allegretto please, “AmazingGraceHowSweettheSound,thatSavedAWretchLikeMe”. Heh.

    SO TRUE.

    Also, ‘Hail to the Chief’ and the theme from ‘Captain Pugwash’ (this is an old UK kids’ show).

  25. clement s says:

    St Francis of Assist Parish in Raleigh, NC is notoriously liberal and this is the tip of the iceberg. A modernist parish with strong GLBT involvement, many of whom are Eucharistic ministers. The Church removed the crucifix from the altar and there is a Protestant feel to it. Kneelers were removed also. Father Mark, the former pastor who sang the song, fired a Lecturer during Mass a few months ago because he added the words “to the Lord” instead of saying “Let us pray” during the Prayers of the Faithful. The parish is off the rails and so is its school. Teachers support pro abortion candidates and there is retaliation against anyone who disagrees with the pastor. Unfortunately, the scandal created by Father Mark at Mass has been going on for years and many parishioners don’t recognize just how.far off course they are. I have prayed that Bishop Burbidge would do something for a long time but he never did. Please pray for the Bishop, the new pastor, Father Mark, and most importantly, the poor souls of St Francis of Assist in Raleigh. May the Lord bring the real Truth to this parish. They need our support and prayers.

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